Stress Test Your Estate Plan

So you have done the hard work of establishing an estate plan. Good for you! However, you still have serious work to do to ensure that the strategy you have selected will maximize your peace of mind and protect your legacy.

Estate plans should be like living, breathing creations that reflect the changes in your life. Your life can and will change due to new births, children getting older, and other shifts in the family; changes to your investment portfolio, career and business; and changes to your health, where you live, and your core values. Likewise, external events, such as new tax legislation passed in your state or the development of a novel financial instrument, can throw your plan off track or open the door to new opportunities. Read More

Is Your Estate Plan as Stale as Last Week’s Ham Sandwich? 5 Reasons to Update Your Estate Plan

Estate plans are almost magical: They allow you to maintain control of your assets, yet protect you should you become incapacitated. They take care of your family and pets. And, if carefully crafted, they reduce fees, taxes, stress, and time delays. Estate plans can even keep your family and financial affairs private. But one thing estate plans can’t do is update themselves.

Estate plans are written to reflect your situation at a specific point in time. While they have some flexibility, the bottom line is that our lives continually change and unfold in ways we might not have ever anticipated. Your plan needs to reflect those changes. If not, it will be as stale as last week’s ham sandwich and may fail miserably when needed the most. Read More

What do successor trustees and executors do?

An executor, sometimes called a personal representative, is the person who is named in a will, appointed by the court, and responsible for probating the will and settling the estate. Depending on the state, an executor may work under court supervision or may use so-called “independent” administration for an unsupervised probate. A trustee, on the other hand, is an individual or trust company named in a trust document and is in charge of the assets that are held in a trust. Assets held in a living trust avoid probate, which means that court supervision is typically not required. In most revocable living trusts, you act as the trustee.
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Do your parents have an estate plan?

If you find yourself in the “sandwich generation” (someone who is caring for both your children as well as your parents simultaneously), you need to know whether or not your parents have put together an estate plan. While it is still your parent’s choice to make estate planning decisions, having a plan — no matter how late in life it is created — is an absolute must.

The thought of speaking with your parents about their finances and estate planning probably makes you want to run as fast as you can in the opposite direction. Nonetheless, having this conversation is the key to helping make sure your parents are able to live their golden years without financial worries and that their wishes are carried out after their death. Read More

One Call You Must Make After You Buy a Home That You’ve Probably Forgotten

Now that you have finalized the purchase of your new home, there is one more expert you need to call: your estate planning attorney. Your attorney can help you review the new documents associated with your home purchase in conjunction with your existing estate plan to ensure that everything aligns and works towards your overall estate planning objectives. Read More

3 Tips for Overwhelmed Executors

While it is an honor to be named as an executor of a will or estate, it can also be a sobering and daunting responsibility. Being an executor (sometimes called a personal representative) requires a high level of organization, foresight, and attention to detail to meet responsibilities and ensure that all beneficiaries receive the assets to which they are entitled. If you’ve found yourself in the position of “overwhelmed executor,” here are some tips to lighten the load. Read More